Blue Zoo: Garibaldi

Featuring one amazing animal per week.

The garibaldi damselfish (Hypsypops rubicundus) is the California State Marine Fish. It is common from northern California down to the southern tip of Baja California. Garibaldis can usually be found on rocky reefs and kelp beds in shallow water. 

This species is easy to recognize because of its distinctive red-orange color. In fact, this fish got its name thanks to that bright color: Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian politician and general in the 1800s known for wearing a red shirt.

Photo by M.O. Stevens | via Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain

Garibaldis can get to about 14 inches (36 cm) long and are very territorial. When they mate, the males build nests to court females. A female visits several nests before choosing her favorite to lay eggs in. The male then guards the eggs from predators until they hatch. Males may make a thumping sound to warn off intruders but they aren’t afraid to attack if necessary. 

Because of its designation as State Marine Fish, the garibaldi has been fully protected from harvesting in California since 1995. (California also has a State Freshwater Fish, the golden trout, recognized since 1947). Before the protections passed, garibaldis were often caught for aquariums. Now, however there are no major threats and they are abundant along much of their range.

Photo by Ed Bierman | via Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain


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